Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Last Night at the Hindu Temple

For the past few weeks I've been thinking about my dad, thanks in part to the ubiquitous Father's day ads, but mostly because yesterday was both his birthday and the second anniversary of his funeral. We ended up at the Hindu temple last night, which worked out well in terms of marking the occasion; I'd wanted to do something, but wasn't sure what. Ordinarily, we go to the temple on weekends (partly for the food) but we had houseguests, and once they departed, lassitude slunk in and I was loath to change out of my lounging outfit.

The crushing heat of the last few days has been a visceral reminder of his stroke, long decline and funeral, all of which took place in Arizona. High temperatures make me wilt, and I already felt wilted on the inside. I was hoping the sweet peacefulness of the temple would perk me up, or soothe me, or otherwise make me feel better.

Not long ago, I told a friend that it doesn't seem to matter what state of mind I'm in when I enter the temple -- by the time I finish going around to all the altars and sit down to contemplate the main one, I feel deeply well. I think it has something to do with paying attention to things outside my daily grind, paying attention to my spirit life, and maybe just plain old paying attention. I don't feel the need to understand it completely, though. I'm just grateful that it works even when I'm in as sorry a state as I've been lately.

Last night we arrived to find the main tower swathed in scaffolding; Mowgli says they're cleaning it for an upcoming major festival and that they do this every so often. At first I was disappointed because I had already envisioned a stunning image of the ornate, gleaming, otherworldly structure at the top of this post. Then I realized it's an apt metaphor for how I've been feeling: in need of maintenance.

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